DAR: Over 400 hectares of land in Boracay can be under agrarian reform

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According to the Department of Agrarian Reform, 408 hectares of land in Boracay had no applications for exemption or conversion.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 1) — Over 400 hectares of land in Boracay may be placed under the government's land reform program if President Rodrigo Duterte orders so, according to the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

In a press briefing Monday, DAR Secretary John Castriciones said as far as their records show, 408 hectares of land in Boracay had no applications for exemption or conversion.

Castriciones said, "Whatever structures built in those portions of Boracay would appear to have been constructed without the necessary requisites, which is of course a conversion order coming from the Department of Agrarian Reform."

The 408 hectares of land is part of 628 hectares which are alienable and disposable, according to the DAR.

"As far as our records show, there is only about a portion of 200 hectares, more or less, that has been subjected to some sort of application for purposes of exemption and conversion. And these can only be the lands that can be subject to utilization for purposes of commerical, industrial, and residential purposes," he said.

Castriciones, however, pointed out there were no orders from President Rodrigo Duterte to subject the land to land reform yet.

"As of now, there is no marching order yet to subject the agricultural land to land reform program, but if the President so orders that we would immediately implement the land reform program in Boracay, we will do it," he said.

In the event that the President orders implementation of his policy to place Boracay under land reform, Castriciones said indigeous peoples and former farmers driven from the island will be the priority.

From their inspection, Castriciones said around 15 hectares could be immediately subjected to land reform if it should be ordered.

But the Secretary said it was not DAR's mandate to demolish existing structures.

"It will be the mandate of the other departments like the LGUs and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. As far as DAR is concerned, our main mandate is to process the distribution of land to farmer-beneficiaries and also to identify the so-called farmer-benefciaries." he said.